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Sophie Finnegan

Man reunited with prized pigeon Bob after it got lost on its way home to Gateshead - and ended up in Alabama

A pigeon racer has been reunited with his prized bird Bob after it got lost on its way back to Gateshead - and ended up 4,000 miles away in Alabama in the US.

Alan Todd was worried sick after Bob the pigeon failed to return home from its journey from Guernsey to Gateshead, which should have taken between eight and 10 hours. But Alan was shocked when an animal shelter in Alabama got in touch to inform him that Bob was found thousands of miles away from home.

And so the dedicated owner flew to the US to bring Bob back home and thanked those who helped look after him including The Monroe County Animal Shelter who had been called to help deal with a pigeon who would not leave a man's home. On checking Bob's microchip, staff were shocked to discover he was from the UK.

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After arriving back home on Friday with Bob, Alan said: "It's one of these stories you find hard to believe. It's the first time he has been missing, he's never gone off track like this before. When good pigeons go missing, you worry that he's been killed by a bird of prey or he's got stuck somewhere."

But after discovering he was safe at The Monroe County Animal Shelter, Alan was relieved even though Bob was in a "bit of a state". Alan said: "He was in a bit of a state, he looked really run down. He was soaked, his feathers were soaked. It was quite upsetting actually to see him like that but I was just glad he was safe."

It's thought that Bob may have caught a lift on a cruise liner or an oil tanker to get to the US. And while Alan is relieved he's back home, he's amazed by how many people have become invested in the story.

Alan said: "I think the general public really latched onto this story and it's spread through the entire country and across the world, people from all over the world were talking about Bob in Australia, America, Germany, and more. There's talk about doing a book on it and I think there would be enough stories for it!

"I went out for a drink with my wife and we were sitting at our table when someone came over to me and said: 'Are you Bob's dad? I have been following your story,' and we were just chatting and getting photos!"

Alan has since thanked everyone who helped fundraise to get Bob back home as well as the various organisations that covered his travel expenses. And as for Bob, he's leaving his racing career behind.

He said: "Bob's getting there I think it will take a few weeks to get his feathering right but he's put on some weight and he's already looking much better. He's finished now, he'll not race anymore. I'm just going to breed youngsters off him next year."

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